Labour Against Capitalism? Hegel’s Concept of Labour in Between Civil Society and the State


  • Anders Bartonek Department of Philosophy, Södertörn University College in Stockholm, Sweden



Labour, Hegel, capitalism critique, philosophy of right, political economy, civil society


The concepts and phenomena of civil society, political economy and labour are ambivalent matters in Hegel’s political philosophy. They simultaneously contain productive and destructive potential in the realization of the political community. This article investigates Hegel’s concept of labour against the backdrop of his theory of civil society in order to bring forth the ambiguous role of labour in relation to the ’capitalism’ of civil society. According to Hegel, labour is both economically productive and the activity by which the society and its members can transcend the mere capitalistic dimensions of society. Labour can therefore simultaneously be understood as capitalistic and non-capitalistic in Hegel’s political philosophy. The cultivating dimensions of labour in Hegel’s theory offer a counterpart to the mere capitalistic forms of labour. Labour can therefore be used as a promising platform for the discussion of the relation between economy and culture and for the revitalization of capitalism critique.


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Theme: Capitalism: Current Crisis and Cultural Critique